Page 230 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2006

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important that the government take action to address what is, indeed, in many sectors within the territory, something of a crisis. It is quite pleasing that COAG, at its meeting last week, was able to develop a range of responses, new policy proposals and very much a joint approach to a whole range of aspects on issues of skill shortages, particularly those going to training and the need for far more collaboration nationally in relation to training and the development of skills across the board.

In December last year, I announced that the ACT government would seek to pursue, in partnership with the private sector in the ACT, a pilot campaign, aimed essentially at southern and south-western Sydney, to address the skilled labour shortage. Since that time, a great deal of work has been done by the Chief Minister’s Department and the Department of Economic Development, in partnership with the private sector. All of the business community and those parts of this community that are very, very involved in or concerned about this, such as the academic institutions, the tourism sector and business generally, have been involved in the campaign.

The campaign will be launched in a month or so. As I say, it will target Sydney. It will rely very strongly on the very positive aspects of life in Canberra—the built environment, the physical environment, aspects about the nature of the city, the high levels of income, the best education and health systems in Australia and all of those things that each of us that call Canberra home know to be the fantastic aspects of living in Canberra.

We will, of course, highlight those as well as the fact that we now have a trend unemployment rate of 3.3 per cent, a clear 2 per cent lower than anywhere else in Australia. We have enormous gaps within skills. The latest reports on job vacancy advertisements show the highest level of vacancy proportionate to the work force of any place in Australia. There is a whole range of reasons why you would come to Canberra.

The campaign will be run through Canberra Connect. We have also built and developed a specific website to support the campaign and provide people who seek to respond with all the information highlighting why you might move to Canberra. We are in the process of producing a brochure which will feature a range of testimonials from people that have moved to Canberra in the last two years or so about why they believe it was the best decision they ever made in their life.

We have undertaken some research, through a research company in Sydney, of Sydneysiders’ perspectives of Canberra, Canberrans and life in Canberra, which has thrown up some very, very interesting results. It was a random telephone survey which shows, very pleasingly, that, despite some other perceptions that we, as Canberrans, have of what we believe other Australians think of us, 52 per cent of respondents to the telephone survey reported they had a very positive opinion of Canberra as a place in which to live. Fifteen per cent of those that were surveyed indicated that they would very actively consider relocating to Canberra to live.

The survey has certainly demonstrated that we have a foothold already—a toehold—in terms of people’s perceptions of Canberra. It has sparked our interest in doing more to promote Canberra and Canberra’s lifestyle advantages to, in this first instance, Sydney and, hopefully perhaps later, other places in Australia.

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